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How to Consistently Perform at your Best [GUEST POST]

Victoria Samek introduces OPC, a ground-breaking process that integrates performance science with artistic integrity.

Practice is the most private activity for any musician.

This culture of secrecy pervades our musical life, with great demands and expectations placed on practice to produce successful performances, but often without much consideration given to the process itself.  From beginner to experienced performer, a musician is expected to manage the immense complexities involved in creating a practice-based plan of action which will result in a confident and secure performance. This expectation assumes that the musician has developed organisational and analytical skills alongside the emotional awareness and ability to deal with the frustration, confusion and demoralisation that is an inevitable part of learning.

We assume that every musician will discover how to learn and develop the determination that enables them to succeed in their chosen specialism. Personal expectations run high when there’s pressure to score a high mark, secure a place, or prove self-worth. These factors impact across all learning and performance platforms, and are compounded by the high value placed on ‘natural intuition’ or ‘instinct’ as proof that a performing artist has ‘talent’.

As a masters graduate from the Royal College of Music I had a unique opportunity to further research and explore the theories and methods of performance science. Recognising the significance of performance science and its potential to help the player in re-thinking traditional approaches to practice and performance, I have spent three years developing a ground-breaking approach.  I am now sharing this work with performers all over the world through Organise – Prioritise – Commit – The Practice and Performance Process

Organise the diverse and often unrelated components, within a task using multiple-choice
Prioritise those components into multitasking elements
Commit to a thorough and systematic process.

Sports science has revolutionised training programmes for athletes and sports men and women. The performing arts have been left behind. Performance science, although established academically, is treated with suspicion by performing artists – often accused of extinguishing the flame of inspiration. This misconception prevails among students who dislike the idea of science playing any part in their artistic and creative process. Yet scientific terms such as ‘accuracy, clarity, objective and method’ are in no way contrary to ‘creative, imaginative, inspirational and musical’. All are defining terms for artistic endeavour. Therefore it’s time to put aside prejudices and acknowledge that science in partnership with creativity will maximise a performer’s potential in a balanced and considered way that will endorse spontaneity. 

Learning to process that knowledge accurately and reliably, with technical skills, fluency and ingenuity, whilst remaining committed and confident, is an enormous undertaking. But this is the reality of the practice and performance agenda. OPC proposes category headed checklists, each with distinct and separate agendas. The complexities of the practice process will be broken down into more clearly definable elements. Using multiple-choice as a tool of enquiry this is starting point of the OPC process that will develop into highly refined multitasking. Never again will there feel a separation between practice and performance, but instead a transparent pathway leading to one powerful and committed process! 

The OPC Process embraces

  • Understanding from which to Organise – What you think
  • Strategies from which to Prioritise – What you do
  • Personalisation from which to Commit – What you feel

With relevance to teachers and performers at every level, OPC responds to the overwhelming question: “Where do I start? and ‘why do anxieties seem to take over?’ 

As a sensitive practice mentor and experienced performance coach Victoria Samek offers one-to-one or group sessions using OPC. Her introductory talk will take you on her personal journey combining nuggets from science punctuated by live performance that will leave audiences enthralled.

Victoria can be contacted for booking and inquiries via email: [email protected]

Full details of OPC course options will be available in 2020. To register your interest and receive early booking reduced rates, email Victoria with your contact details.     

Jonny Venvell

Jonny is Encore's Head of Artist Relations.

He's responsible for supporting and helping musicians on the platform and writes most of the musician-facing articles on the blog. He can usually be found singing in choirs, drumming in bands, or nodding meaningfully to particularly good chords in London's jazz bars.

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